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What Not A Prophetic Comedy   By: (1881-1958)

What Not A Prophetic Comedy by Rose Macaulay

First Page:

WHAT NOT

A PROPHETIC COMEDY

BY ROSE MACAULAY

AUTHOR OF "NON COMBATANTS," "THE MAKING OF A BIGOT," ETC.

LONDON CONSTABLE AND COMPANY LTD. 1918

TO CIVIL SERVANTS I HAVE KNOWN

"Wisdom is very unpleasant to the unlearned: he that is without understanding will not remain with her. She will lie upon him as a mighty stone of trial; and he will cast her from him ere it be long. For wisdom is according to her name, and she is not manifest unto many....

"Desire not a multitude of unprofitable children...."

Jesus, Son of Sirach, c. B.C. 150.

"It's domestickness of spirit, selvishnesse, which is the great let to Armies, Religions, and Kingdomes good."

W. GREENHILL, 1643.

"It has come to a fine thing if people cannot live in their homes without being interfered with by the police.... You are upsetting the country altogether with your Food Orders and What Not."

DEFENDANT IN A FOOD HOARDING CASE, January, 1918.

NOTE.

As this book was written during the war, and intended prophetically, its delay until some months after the armistice calls for a word of explanation.

The book was ready for publication in November, 1918, when it was discovered that a slight alteration in the text was essential, to safeguard it against one of the laws of the realm. As the edition was already bound, this alteration has naturally taken a considerable time.

However, as the date of the happenings described in "What Not" is unspecified, it may still be regarded as a prophecy, not yet disproved.

R. M.

March, 1919

APOLOGY

One cannot write for evermore of life in war time, even if, as at times seems possible, the war outlasts the youngest of us. Nor can one easily write of life as it was before this thing came upon us, for that is a queer, half remembered thing, to make one cry. This is a tale of life after the war, in which alone there is hope. So it is, no doubt, inaccurate, too sanguine in part, too pessimistic in part, too foolish and too far removed from life as it will be lived even for a novel. It is a shot in the dark, a bow drawn at a venture. But it is the best one can do in the unfortunate circumstances, which make against all kinds of truth, even that inferior kind which is called accuracy. Truth, indeed, seems to be one of the things, along with lives, wealth, joy, leisure, liberty, and forest trees, which has to be sacrificed on the altar of this all taking war, this bitter, unsparing god, which may perhaps before the end strip us of everything we possess except the integrity of our so fortunately situated island, our indomitable persistence in the teeth of odds, and the unstemmed eloquence of our leaders, all of which we shall surely retain.

This book is, anyhow, so far as it is anything beyond an attempt to amuse the writer, rather of the nature of suggestion than of prophecy, and many will think it a poor suggestion at that. The suggestion is of a possible remedy for what appears to have always been the chief human ailment, and what will, probably, after these present troubles, be even more pronounced than before. For wars do not conduce to intelligence. They put a sudden end to many of the best intellects, the keenest, finest minds, which would have built up the shattered ruins of the world in due time. And many of the minds that are left are battered and stupefied; the avenues of thought are closed, and people are too tired, too old, or too dulled by violence, to build up anything at all. And besides these dulled and damaged minds, there are the great mass of the minds which neither catastrophe nor emotion nor violence nor age nor any other creature can blunt, because they have never been acute, have never had an edge, can cut no ice nor hew any new roads... Continue reading book >>




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